Updated: January 13, 2017
The unfortunate truth is that most headphones aren’t suited for working out. They aren’t sweatproof, they fall out easily, and the wires tangle worse than Disney’s Rapunzel.
This is especially true of the infamous (and ubiquitous) white or black earbuds that now come standard with every iPhone or Android.
Whether you spend most of your time running on the treadmill, playing racquetball or doing push ups on your kitchen floor, you’ll want a decent set of workout headphones in order to deliver some quality music (or podcast) and a little burst of energy.
The problem is there are just so many choices these days. There are literally thousands of different sports headphones, earphones, earbuds, and earpads.
We’ve reviewed hundreds of the best, and below you’ll find our Top 10 List followed by a detailed guide on how to narrow down exactly which workout headphones are the best for you.
10 Best Workout Headphones
|1||Jabra Sport Coach||Earbuds||Wireless||$$$$||4.9|
|2||Bose Freestyle Earbuds||Earbuds||Wired||$$$||4.4|
|3||Plantronics BackBeat Fit||Ear Hook||Wireless||$$$||4.3|
|4||Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones||Earbuds||Wired||$$$||4.3|
|5||Yurbuds Inspire Sport||Earbuds||Wired||$||4.2|
|6||Sennheiser CX 685||Earbuds||Wired||$$$||4.1|
|7||Skullcandy Chops||Ear Hook||Wired||$||4.1|
|9||Koss Fitclips||Ear Hook||Wired||$||4.0|
|10||Beats Powerbeats 2||Ear Hook||Wireless||$$$$||3.9|
The 5 Main Types of Workout Headphones
Without making things too complicated there are essentially 5 major types of workout headphones:
In addition to the 5 categories above headphones can also be wired, or wireless, something we’ll get into below as well.
(Pictured Above: Sol Republic Relays)
Earbuds have become extremely popular because of 1 company…Apple. With the invention of the smartphone 9 out of 10 people you pass are glued to the screen.
Unfortunately the stock earbuds that Apple packages with their products just don’t meet the same standards as workout headphones need to meet. Unless of course you love hard plastic earbuds that fall out every time you move.
If you decide to buy a pair of workout earbuds, you definitely want to make sure they are in-ear-canal (as opposed to just in-ear like Apple) earbuds. Meaning, the earbud needs to fit snugly, but comfortably, inside your ear canal.
We recommend this style workout earbud for anyone who wants the pleasure of quality sound without ever feeling the headphones during a workout.
- Easily replace or clean the earbuds
- Wrap up quickly for storage
- Tend to have less support without a neckband or headband
Ear Hook Headphones
(Pictured Above: Yurbuds Inspire Wireless)
Ear hook headphones are the newest type of workout headphones. They were created as a cross between the headband/neckband style and still utilize an earbud. The clip on workout headphones use a combination of the earbud plus a small clip around your ear to create a good fit.
This style may also be known as “clip-on”, as many of these workout headphones appear to clip on to the outside of your ear.
We recommend this style workout headphones for anyone who wants the lightweight feel of an earbud, while also adding a level of fit with the clip.
- Good fit
- Clip is usually adjustable for different size ears
- Complaints of comfort of clip behind ear
Neckband Workout Headphones
(Pictured Above: Sennheiser PMX 685i)
Workout neckband headphones take it a step further in terms of stability. They typically utilize an in-ear earbud attached to a lightweight frame that is curved slightly to fend the bend of your lower neck.
We recommend these style headphones for runners and bikers. The ability to have the cord come out the back and run along the band down your backside rather than your front is often decided for runners whose arms swing when they run.
- Option to have cord out of the back of the neckband usually, keeping it out of the way during activity
- Take your pick between an earpad or earbud
- Some people don’t like the initial feel of something resting on their neck during a workout
Vertical Workout Headphones
(Pictured Above: Jaybird Sportsband)
These are the veterans of the group. Vertical headphones were the first type of headphones ever created. When earbud style headphones were put on the market many people moved away from this style headphone, but over the years companies were able to create a very lightweight sleek vertical workout headphone that has attracted a lot of people.
There are typically 2 different styles. The first style utilizes a smaller earpad or even earbud, usually some type lightweight, soft foam. This is more common. However, as of late, many people are opting for the larger style full earpad that completely encompasses the ear with a leather or soft plastic pad.
We recommend these style headphones for the person that typically works out at home and also wants to use these for other activities around the house.
- Unrivaled quality sound
- All headphones can be used for other things, but watching a movie on your laptop with a full earpad headphone puts you right in the movie
- Choose between an earpad, earbud, or full earpad
- Better noise cancelling qualities (if desired)
- These are the heaviest of all workout headphones
- Typically a little bulkier feel
Bone Conduction Headphones
(Pictures Above: Aftershokz Bluez 2)
This type of headphone technology has been around for a while. Mostly implemented to assist the hearing impaired or for military communication. In the past few years Aftershokz, along with a few other companies have been turning this technology into viable consumer headphones.
Wireless Workout Headphones
As we mentioned above, in addition to the main styles of headphones, there is also the wireless or wired option.
Everything is wireless these days, making this definitely the most popular. Most people go with wireless headphones for working out mainly because they don’t have to worry about wires. However, since the ability to sync seamlessly with your smartphone, laptop, car, etc. also makes them a perfect all around headphone.
Honestly unless you’re an audiophile, or on a tight budget, there’s pretty much no reason not to go wireless. Most wireless headphones will wrap around your ear and/or neck and utilize an earbud to deliver sound, which we get into more detail about below.
- No wires
- Extremely lightweight
- Syncs with other devices
- Some devices (mostly older) require an additional Bluetooth chip
- Sometimes require a little more attention to set up if your first Bluetooth device
- The actual headset will be slightly heavier because the wireless technology is built in
2 Additional Features to Consider
In addition to the categories above, there are also other categories to consider, such as:
As you can see there are quite a few choices when it comes to workout headphones. The good news is, with today’s technology it is hard to go wrong.
If for any reason you have a question about one of the styles or choices above, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.